JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jennifer Greene, 18, and Danielle Dionne, 15, posted a video showing a gopher tortoise being lit on fire, thrown on the concrete and being stomped on until it died. The video went viral on Facebook.
Greene showed no emotion Saturday morning as she listened to the charges of felony cruelty to animals -- a third-degree felony -- and taking, harassing, harming or killing a gopher tortoise -- a second-degree misdemeanor.
On Sunday, News4Jax spoke with Greene's former counselor. Jeff Econom was a counselor at Camp Tracey Children's Home. It closed not too long ago, but Econom said it was a place where troubled teens would go.
Econom (pictured) said Greene arrived there when she was 13 and was under his care for nearly three years. He said in that time, he came to see her as a daughter.
He said he doesn't excuse the charges against her, but wants people to know more about her, and he hopes for the best possible outcome.
"I can tell you, I've seen that look on her face so many times," Econom said. "She doesn't even really understand what she's being charged with."
Econom said he was beside himself when he learned that investigators arrested Greene after the disturbing video surfaced online.
"I was shocked because we have a lot of farm animals," he said. "You name it, we had it out at the farm. And Jennifer tended to them all."
Econom said not only did Greene love the animals, but said she was gentle with them and other girls.
Although he wouldn't go into the reason for why she was sent to camp, he said she had a difficult time growing up and was socially and developmentally behind.
"People don't understand that Jennifer came from a Romanian orphanage," Econom said. "We will never know what happened over there and the transition to America. And she was just basically sent out to a camp."
He said in the time Greene was at the camp she was always looking for acceptance. He went on to describe her as someone who would do just about anything.
"She's just looking to please others and be friends," Econom said. "She's just looking for a friend and whatever it takes to be that friend. I hate to say it, it's almost borderline desperate for a friend."
Although Econom said he doesn't excuse what happened, he worries about what a potential prison sentence could mean for Greene. He said he believes what she needs is help.
"Jennifer was one that when she left camp, if the camp was still going right now, our recommendations would have been to stay there," Econom said.
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